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‘People need an end date’: NSW businesses call for path out of pandemic to include vaccination incentives

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Daniel Pockett/AAP</span>
Photograph: Daniel Pockett/AAP

Businesses want incentives for vaccinated New South Wales residents to be included in the state’s path out of lockdown, amid concerns “passive” targets will not drive up vaccination rates fast enough.

The Committee for Sydney says its 60 member organisations in hospitality, entertainment, construction and universities are calling for people who have been vaccinated to be rewarded with earlier freedoms. The call follows Venues NSW indicating major stadiums would soon only allow vaccinated spectators.

Ehssan Veiszadeh, the deputy chief executive and director of strategy at the Committee for Sydney, noted that while members supported vaccination targets for reopening agreed at national cabinet’s meeting last Friday, more needed to be done to draw a link between residents getting vaccines and freedoms.

Related: NSW Covid update: premier won’t speculate on lockdown’s end but says vaccination is key to ‘freedoms’

Veiszadeh said the vaccine target rates outlined – which include a 50% target set by the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to move out of the Sydney lockdown and the 70% and 80% targets set by national cabinet to reopen were “passive”.

He said while businesses were thankful for the certainty associated with targets, the measures would be more effective if also tied to dates and specific freedoms that vaccinated people would gain at that point.

“You can’t have a passive situation where some (vaccine hesitant people) wait and watch until a percentage of other people are vaccinated and then think ‘I’ll be able to go out again’,” he said.

“People need some hope and an end date, and to be told your actions will lead to a great result for yourself and your community.”

Veiszadeh called on the government to “set a deadline for when vaccine permits and passports will be implemented”.

“They should talk about it now and say by a certain date we will move to this system and to move around freely you will need to be vaccinated so you might as well get it done in the meantime. You see it with the NRL and other sports now.

“We should be starting to paint that picture for people of the hope that is on the horizon, what your actions can lead to, because (on a state level) the time when this will become relevant is literally around the corner, not in 2022,” Veiszadeh said.

The committee last week called for the NSW government, as the state’s biggest employer, to require all employees to be vaccinated.

As a public incentive to drive up vaccination rates so restrictions can be eased, the committee has also called for the NSW government to identify 25 high street precincts across the city that will be allowed to open for restaurant and bar service on footpaths as the first step out of lockdown.

Meanwhile, Tony Shepherd, chairman of Venues NSW – which manages stadiums including the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Sydney Football Stadium and the Olympic Stadium – had submitted a vaccine requirement plan to the state government, and said the policy had “twin virtues” to keep sport safe and encourage fans to get vaccinated.

“I’m not forcing people to get vaccinated … if they want to watch the cricket they can watch it on TV,” he told 2GB radio of his plan, which reportedly has the backing of rugby league chief Peter V’landys.

Elsewhere, Arthur Moses, senior barrister and former president of the Law Council of Australia, told a legal conference employers should take a lead in encouraging workers to get vaccinated.

Moses, who is also Berejiklian’s partner, reportedly said that in his view employers not only have the legal right to require vaccinations, but also have a duty to mandate vaccinations.

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